Armed Chinese troops have been marching into the Indian territory in Ladakh and stopping the construction of a canal for the last two days, sources in the security establishment said, but the army on Thursday denied reports of any “incursion”.
The alleged incident took place in Demchok sector, located 250km east of Leh, where the work for linking a village with ‘hot spring’ is being undertaken under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Demchok lies along the Sino-India border.
The ‘hot spring’ is different from the one in Chashool where Police Day is observed in memory of 10 securitymen killed in 1959 by Chinese troops.
“Around 50 armed personnel of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reached there on Wednesday morning and objected to civilian work being carried out there. Almost same number of Indian troops also reached there and sat in front of them,” a central security official said on condition of anonymity.
“The Chinese troops went back on Wednesday evening and came again on Thursday morning. The work on the canal has been stopped in the meanwhile. It seems that the issue will be resolved through a flag meeting between the two armies,” the official added.
But on Thursday evening, the army’s Northern Command said in a tweet: “No Chinese incursion across LAC. Issues relating construction projects on both sides of LAC being resolved in BPM (Border Personnel Meetings)”.
The development comes ahead of a meeting between the National Security Advisors (NSA) of the two nations in Hyderabad on Friday.
Both sides pulled out banners and have been stationed on the ground, news agency PTI quoted unnamed sources as saying, adding Indian personnel were not allowing the Chinese to move an inch ahead.
India and China do not have a properly demarcated border in the Ladakh region and there is difference of perception of the boundary, which is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
China says it should be informed about the construction work in the area, but India argues citing a pact that the sharing of information is required only in case of defence-related constructions.
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said if an incident had taken place, it will be resolved through established mechanisms.
“I am not specifically aware of any such incident, but even if something like this has happened, there are, as you know, established mechanisms to handle such situations as a result of which in the recent past at least our border with China has been free of any major incident. I would urge lets not sensationalise things out of context,” he said.
The area had witnessed a similar incident in 2014 after over the construction of a small irrigation canal at Nilung Nalla under the MNREGA scheme. Sources said the dispute over the canal was resolved through a flag meeting between local army commanders.
(With agency inputs)